Lauren Hannani staff writer
Finding a sense of comfort or support during school hours is not an easy task for some students, but the By Your Side Club ensures that every special needs student is well equipped with a friend whom they can find a special connection with outside of home.
After experiencing the SET (sit, eat, talk) program at Horace Mann in middle school, co-president Jackson Stewart became influenced to create a club on Beverly’s campus that mirrored the program. Like SET, the By Your Side Club meetings consist of forming into groups with other members of the club every Thursday and talking with a special needs buddy.
“We all need a friend. We all need someone by our side, it’s true; it’s just how humans work. If you’re lonely, you’re going to feel horrible about yourself. You’re not going to want to go out and make a difference in your life or someone else’s life, so we give them the opportunity to express themselves, do what they want to do in life,” Stewart said.
Stewart’s friends, sophomores Jonathan Artal and Evan Timmerman, were also inspired to start this club since they valued the importance of friendship and social connections at Beverly, especially for certain students.
“I think we are really the only club on Beverly’s campus that focuses on helping a disadvantaged group that is also on our campus. There are many campus groups that meet to alleviate issues in Africa or places like that, which are great. But I feel like this gives students the opportunity to make a difference in their community and to see firsthand the difference that helping a kid out can make in their life,” Artal said.
Members of the club eat lunch with these students to have a genuine conversation with their buddy, with whom they develop close relationships.
“There will come a point when adults will not always be around to help the special needs students. By Your Side prepares both the club members and the special needs students for life after high school; the former obtain social skills that will improve them in aiding others as adults, and the latter gain the sense that there will always be someone of their age level by their side to provide aid, in whatever form it may be,” sophomore club member Liza Freiberg said.
As the club’s main goal is to provide special needs students with happiness and pride, the co-presidents are very thankful for their sponsor Kimberly Davy, who was a big reason “why this club turned out well,” according to Stewart. As a result of her devotion to By Your Side, the club is now a new kind of experience for all kinds of students.
“It’s important for people to have somebody to talk to, and somebody to open up to,” Artal said. “A lot of people don’t have that, and I really feel like that’s something I appreciate having and everybody appreciates having.”